Fleet specialist Velo says the practice is causing company service, maintenance and repair costs to soar.
Its operations director, Mike McRae, claims that despite suppliers’ attempts to reduce maintenance costs they have no other choice but to replace tyres with the same specification as those originally fitted.
He said: ‘We are seeing increasing cases of manufacturers equipping cars with tyres of unnecessarily high performance specification – for example, a W speed rated tyre, good for 168mph, on a car with a top speed of 135mph, still some 65mph over the UK legal limit. A V-rated tyre, sufficient for speeds of up to 149mph, will do the job perfectly adequately and safely, so why over-specify?’
The company has carried out analysis on the vehicles it manages and found that over the past four years the fitment of H speed-rated tyres, once the norm for typical upper-medium cars, has fallen from 30% of its total volume to 20%.
It found that during the same period W-rated tyres, which had accounted for less than 4% of volume four years ago, were now fitted to 16% of cars. T-rated tyres, for speeds of up to 118mph, dropped from 15% to 6%.
McRae added: ‘On a size-for-size, brand-for-brand basis, the increase in cost from a H to a W is about 30%, which has a major impact on SMR costs, especially for a high-mileage car.’
He is calling on manufacturers to ‘realise the needs of the fleet market and tailor product specifications accordingly’ and added: ‘Tyre fitting companies are not allowed to down-spec tyres from the rating homologated by the manufacturer for a vehicle and so in many ways our, and their, hands are tied as regards taking a sensible, but still safe, approach to cost reduction.’